Reading Glasses After LASIK? Why!?!?

Posted on July 19, 2011 · Posted in Eyeglasses, General, Surgery

LASIK has become a very popular procedure in recent years.  The goal being that a person can minimize or eliminate their dependency on glasses or contact lenses for clear vision.  This can be a life-changing event for many people.

Consider the 30 year old patient who has needed to wear glasses or contacts since first grade.  In a perfect surgical outcome, that person can now wake up in the middle of the night and see the alarm clock or get out of bed without fumbling for their glasses.  They can fall asleep while watching TV and not worry about broken or bent glasses.  They don’t have to worry about a contact lens supply, solutions, and the associated care regimen.

But what about the 55 year old individual who wears bifocals or progressive lenses prior to surgery?  Their outcome is typically a bit different in that they will usually need reading glasses.  Sure, there are specific “compromise” techniques (ie. PresbyLASIK, monovision, etc.) that can result in a person still being able to read without help after LASIK, but the vast majority need reading glasses.  Why is this?

The answer lies in a condition called presbyopia.  Presbyopia is a natural loss of flexibility of the lens inside the eye .  The lens is responsible for generating near focusing power so if it loses flexibility, we lose our ability to focus for reading.  The closer the object, the harder it becomes to see so the usual compensating mechanism is to hold things farther away.  You can easily spot these people as they often look like they are waterskiing:  arms extended to full length, head cranked back, etc. all in an effort to get the distance between their eyes and the reading material as great as possible.

Presbyopia is an unavoidable fact of life and involves changes to structures inside the eye.  LASIK, as a surgical reshaping of the outside of the eye, does nothing to address these internal structures.  Therefore, reading glasses are necessary to supplement our own deficient focusing system whether we’ve had surgery or not.

Have questions?  Feel free to leave a comment.